Modernism Timeline Claire hayes-bowlzer

The Enlightenment- 1500's

During this period there was a philosophical movement towards rational thinking instead of superstition. Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes where at the forefront of the enlightenment, emphasising how religious ideas should be replaced with mathematics, science and evidence. Examples of this include Newtons discovery of gravity, Darwin's theory of evolution, and Galileo's heliocentrism theory. These discoverys


Modernism is the result of people expressing what it is like living in an ever changing period of modernity. This was a period in which industrialisation, urbanisation, science and technology where rapidly advancing and changing. This resulted in new sociological environments like capitalism and revolutions. New concepts where being made such as the theory of relativity, psychoanalysis, and Marxism. This timeline gives a brief overview of some of these events, also referring to events I discussed in my essay.

1889 Eiffel Tower

At the time of building, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest manmade structure in the world. It is an icon of modernism, engineering, and french architecture.

1899- Age of Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud publishes 'The Interpretation of Dreams'. He is considered one of the founders of psychology and psychoanalysis. Freud recognised the important role of the subconscious. These ideas are represented in art which didn't occur during the enlightenment. Modernist art is often open to interpretation inspired by the psychoanalysis in Freud's theories.

1905- Einstein's theory of special relativity

This theory suggests that the speed of light is constant even if the viewer is moving. Einsteins theory was pivotal for science.

1907 - Cubism

Created by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, cubism aimed to represent all viewpoints of a subject in one single image. A controversial painting from this time is 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon', despite the disapproval at the time it is now seen as an iconic piece of Cubist art.

Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque (left). 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon' (right).

1909 Beginnings of Futurism

Futurism, founded by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, had a strong philosophy of disregarding the past whilst glorifying machines. Often represeting movement and noise using the stroke of brushes or onomatopoeia.

The City Rises, Umberto Boccioni (left), Zang Tumb Tumb, Marinetti (right)

1913- Rite of Spring

Igor Stravinsky composed Rite of Spring which was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for ballet. The piece depicts human sacrifice.

1914- beginning of World War One.

1914- Dada

During the first world war in Zurich, the art movement Dada was formed in response to the horrors of war. Work in this style is satirical and has no meaning but has intentions to shock or offend. The movement was anti- war and could be considered left wing in politics.

L.H.O.O.Q. by Marcel Duchamp (left). The Hitler Gang, by Kurt Schwitters (right)

1915- Constructivism

In Russia Vladimir Tatlin and Alexander Rodchenko founded this movement to reflect the modern industrial world. Sculptures where often made of scrap metal to show this.

Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International

1917- Marxism

This far left ideology suggests conflict arises in capitalist societies due to contradictions between the material interests of the class of wage labourers who (produce goods and services)—and the ruling class ( who own the means of production). They create their wealth through the profit produced by the working class. Marx proposed this would create a working class revolution, creating socialism. This is system based on social ownership of the means of production, distribution based on a persons contribution. As the production continued to grow, Marx suggested that socialism would eventually become a communist society. this is a classless, stateless, society based on common ownership based on the principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".

1917- De Stijl

Founded by Piet Mondrian and Theo Van Doesburg, this Dutch movement focuses on geometry and the use of horizontal and vertical lines.

Red and Blue Chair by Gerrit Rietveld (left), Counter-Composition V by Theo van Doesburg (right)

1917- Fountain

Marcel Duchamp displayed a urinal in a New York gallery to controversially question the convention of what art is.

1919- Bauhaus

This German school of art was formed by Walter Gropius. The focus was on "function before form", the goal was to create art that could be used in everyday life. After world war 2 many artists moved to America greatly influencing art and design there.

Club Chair (Model B3) by Marcel Breuer (left), Universal Bayer by Herbert Bayer (right)

1920 Suffragettes

The 19th amendment was created to allow women to vote. This shows how society was completely changing in the period of modernity


Boyne and Rattansi (1990) created a theory to define art that fits into the broad modernism category;

  • Paradox- ambiguity or absence of clear meaning
  • Loss of an integrated single subject- individuals in the image are divided or there is no clear single subject in the image.
  • Aesthetic self- reflectiveness- the media used is shown in the image
  • Montage- a narrative created by items from different sources

1920- World War One ends

1922- T.S Eliot publishes 'the wasteland'

This is an important poem in modernist literature and discusses the horrors of conflict from different speakers often using satirical tones.

1922 - 1925-Le Plan Viosin

The Plan Voisin is a solution for the center of Paris, drawn between 1922 and 1925 by Le Corbusier.

1928 - Formation of The Congrès internationaux d'architecture moderne

founded in June 1928, at the Chateau de la Sarraz in Switzerland, by a group of 28 European architects organized by Le Corbusier. CIAM was one of many 20th century manifestos meant to advance the cause of "architecture as a social art".

1929- The New York stock market crashes

1945- Stuyvesant town by architect Robert Moses

Stuyvesant Town

Stuyvesant town in New York was built in 1945 by architect Robert Moses, the cruciform towers have remarkable resemblance to Corbusier’s’ designs. Like the radiant city, pedestrians and cars are separated. In this case Le Corbusier’s concept for urban planning has been successful. This was a common occurrence in New York as the modernism movement moved to America.

1955- When city planning supremo Robert Moses proposed a road through Greenwich Village

Jane Jacobs (left)

in 1955, he met opposition from one particularly feisty local resident: Jane Jacobs. It was the start of a decades-long struggle in New York

1961- The Death and Life of Great American Cities released

The Death and Life of Great American Cities book by Jane Jacobs. Jacobs critiques the 1950s urban planning policy, which she holds responsible for the decline of many city neighbourhoods in America. Going against the modernist planning of the time, she proposes a appreciation for organic urban vibrancy, the antithesis of Corbusiers ideology.

1949-70, Philadelphia. Edmund Bacons

The executive director of the City Planning Commission Edmund Bacons, oversaw the development of Penn Center, a downtown project of office buildings, shops, and hotels. He designed plans for the development of Market East, Penn’s Landing, Society Hill, and Independence Mall.

1954- Pruitt- Igoe Housing Projects

The Wendell O. Pruitt Homes and William Igoe Apartments, known together as Pruitt-Igoe, were joint urban housing projects first occupied in 1954 in the U.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri. Living conditions in Pruitt–Igoe began to decline soon after completion in 1956. By the late 1960s, the complex had become internationally infamous for its poverty, crime, and racial segregation. All 33 buildings were demolished with explosives in the mid-1970s, and the project has become an icon of failure of urban renewal and of public-policy planning.

1957 plan of Brasília

Brazilian planner, preservationist and modernist thinker Lúcio Costa (27 Feburary 1902 – 13 June 1998) is best known for his 1957 plan of Brasília that shaped the Brazilian capital into a monument to utopian modernism. A resolute and often controversial figure in the Brazilian establishment, Costa’s contributions to Brazilian architecture helped to shape the distinctive modernism that was practically Brazil’s official style until the 1980s.


Created with images by Pierre Châtel-Innocenti - "La Défense, Paris" • cocoparisienne - "einstein professor humor formula nobel prize winner"

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